emirates202
Topic Author
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How Do Airlines Assign A Aircraft To Each Route?

Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:16 pm

What I mean is, how do airlines assign which jet- by tail number, is going on each route. An example is in GRU. Delta has 3 flights a day to São Paulo. On the way back, does the same one that came from JFK go back, or does it go to ATL? When i was flying gru-jfk 2 days ago, we were at remote stand, so how do the ground crew deckde/know, which aorcraft is going to which dest? Also, howdo they assign them in the hub, like at JFK/ATL, which one is going where?

Thanks for any input!

-ek202
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tdscanuck
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RE: How Do Airlines Assign A Aircraft To Each Route?

Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:34 pm

Quoting emirates202 (Thread starter):
What I mean is, how do airlines assign which jet- by tail number, is going on each route.

It's mostly done by complex computer programs with some human oversight; given the availability of aircraft (when they're due for maintenance, etc.) and the route structure, the computers can churn out a solution that fits (the right type of aircraft is on the right route at the right time). There will always be some aircraft in maintenance, a few in reserve, and most active in the route. If things go wrong (something drops out of ETOPS capability, or goes tech, or there's a cancellation, etc.) then people have to get involved to swap things around from the baseline to find a workable solution. There search space of possible allocations is far larger than most computers can handle, and there's no need to...you just need a solution that works.

At at least one airline I worked with, we could map tail number to flight number at least 3 or 4 days out, so maintenance always knew what was heading where. Last minute changes, naturally, are a constant possibility.

Tom.
 
emirates202
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RE: How Do Airlines Assign A Aircraft To Each Route?

Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:46 pm

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 1):

Thanks for the quick reply, but how do ground crew in GRU know which is going where? Do they get a sheet telling them?
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fr8mech
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RE: How Do Airlines Assign A Aircraft To Each Route?

Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:13 am

Quoting emirates202 (Reply 2):
Thanks for the quick reply, but how do ground crew in GRU know which is going where? Do they get a sheet telling them?

As was stated, tail numbers can be projected, accurately, 2 or 3 days in advance. When you have a change in the tail number because of delays, mechanical or some new maintenance constraint, the affected stations are informed via whatever tool is used to communicate aircraft movements.
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Fabo
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RE: How Do Airlines Assign A Aircraft To Each Route?

Mon Apr 16, 2012 10:57 am

emirates202: The aircraft are usually on normal rotation that is kind of "a given" - for ex. if the schedule is built around one tail going jfk-gru-atl, and the other atl-gru-jfk, crew just take note of which arrival went where on the field. Also, most stations I know of, there is one team (or one "team leader") working one rotation, and he oversees both arrival and departure.

If things were to change for OP reasons, handling gets a message from the airline, and they can react accordingly.

regarding stands, airport/airline (terminal operator) assigns stands before arrival based on several factors such as availability, expected ground time, delays in operation (if you have two consecutive flights on one gate, and the first one is delayed, you have to decide what to do) etc. and when decision is made, ground crews are informed.
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simairlinenet
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RE: How Do Airlines Assign A Aircraft To Each Route?

Mon Apr 16, 2012 4:48 pm

In addition, there may be secondary factors like fuel burn that would encourage using a particular aircraft on one flight vs. another. If one aircraft has an issue that adversely affects fuel burn, it makes sense to put it on the shortest flights.
 
e38
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RE: How Do Airlines Assign A Aircraft To Each Route?

Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:12 am

Quoting emirates202 (Reply 2), "how do ground crew in GRU know which is going where? Do they get a sheet telling them?"

emirates202, are you serious? Do you think the ground crewmembers at Sao Paulo (in your example) just wander out on the ramp, flip a coin to decide what destination to send each aircraft, then stand around and wait to see what happens?

The scheduling and routing of aircraft is a fairly complex process. It normally begins with Network which decides the optimum capacity and capability of each type of aircraft to serve various routes and can change depending on day of week, season, special events in destination cities, etc. That information is then forwarded to crew scheduling and Maintenance Control.

Maintenance Control will assign a particular aircraft to a specific route several days in advance and it is predicated on forecast maintenance requirements of the aircraft (i.e., will the aircraft be in a maintenance station when a specific check is required). Occasionally it is also based on aircraft configuration (i.e., at Delta, some of the Airbus A-319/A-320 are configured for overwater operations, while others are not). At some airlines, Southwest (I think), Maintenance and Crew Scheduling coordinate as well to try to schedule the aircraft and crew on the same routing to minimize the number of times crews change aircraft during the course of a day.

With regard to your original question, "does the same one that came from JFK go back?" No, not necessarily.

Once the particular aircraft is assigned to a route, this information is forwarded to the Dispatcher, who develops the entire flight package for the flight. The Dispatcher then sends this information to the Station Manager at the appropriate airport who in turn provides the information to the Lead Ramp Agent, or Team Leader. At some operations, this is called a "Frag," abbreviation for "Fragment" of the entire flight dispatch package.

To answer your question,when the ground crews at various airports (Sao Paulo, in your experience) show up for work, the Ramp Agent--or Team Leader--knows exactly which tail number is going to which destination, whether or not an alternate airport is required, the required fuel load, expected number of passengers (including any non-revenue passengers), catering requirements, sometimes the name and number of flight crewmembers, and occasionally the routing of the flight to the destination as well as the flight time. Once an aircraft (ship number) has been assigned to a particular flight on a specified day, it cannot be changed without specific approval from Maintenance Control and Flight Dispatch (i.e.,neither the ground crew nor the flight crew can just say, "Hey, let's send this one to New York and this one to Atlanta today).

This process does not happen by accident--it is a comprehensive, pre-coordinated, well developed system that has been perfected over years of operation.

e38
 
emirates202
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RE: How Do Airlines Assign A Aircraft To Each Route?

Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:52 am

Quoting e38 (Reply 6):

I do appreciate the detailed response, but that first paragraph was hilarious. It made me laugh so much, and made my day, so thanks for that. lol
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planesailing
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RE: How Do Airlines Assign A Aircraft To Each Route?

Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:01 am

Quoting emirates202 (Reply 2):
Thanks for the quick reply, but how do ground crew in GRU know which is going where? Do they get a sheet telling them?

The ship for the next days flight is checked in Deltamatic and noted down.

When the shift comes in for the day of the flight, the ship is double checked to make sure no aircraft change has occured and then when check-in begins the ship is assigned to the flight, this attaches the aircrafts seat map to check in.

A daily log which goes to all business partners, catering, ground handlers, security, load control is drawn up and a briefing undertaken.

If it a straight forward turn, the aircraft doing the inbound will do the outbound. A member of the turnaround will be with the aircraft from chocks on to chocks off.
 
FlyboyOz
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RE: How Do Airlines Assign A Aircraft To Each Route?

Fri Apr 20, 2012 12:39 pm

It's not that easy to tell. Sometimes they always change the aircraft in the last mintues if the other aircraft was delayed or had a techinical issues or changes gates.
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Stoney
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RE: How Do Airlines Assign A Aircraft To Each Route?

Fri Apr 20, 2012 1:04 pm

If you're interrested in network planning yesterdays LX Blog might be a nice read. Part 2 should follow sometime soon...
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apodino
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RE: How Do Airlines Assign A Aircraft To Each Route?

Fri Apr 20, 2012 7:15 pm

At the regional level (or at least one that I know of) it works like this:

All of the airplanes have to be in mx bases every three days for an Interim service check, and every six days for a scheduled service check. Where this is accomplished for each airplane is determined by a MX planner that takes into account work needed on the airplane, availability of parts, capability of mx stations, and manpower. Once the planners determine where each AC needs to be, a dispatch coordinator will use software to build the routings for each AC three days out. Because the software cannot automatically route ac by destination, after the routings are built, the coordinators will manually reroute some airplanes in order to ensure that each plane ends up in the proper maintenance base.

Early on the day of flying, a lot of routings will be cleaned up to allow crews to keep their airplanes to the maximum extent possible. On the day of flying though, many things happen that will affect a routing. The most obvious one being unscheduled maintenance. When this happens, the airplanes need to be swapped around to optimize the entire operation. In some cases, there are MEL items that will limit where an airplane can be routed to (e.g, a plane with an meled Anti Skid needs to be routed somewhere with a long runway, which means no LGA or DCA). These things are always handled day of, meaning that one flight could have had as many as five different aircraft assigned to it during the course of the day. It's an art and not an exact science, which is why it is handled more by humans than automation.

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